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Grano, Rome

53 Piazza Rondanini
Italy 00186
Tel: 39 06 6819 2096's insider take:

Concept restaurants come and go in Rome, but Grano has substance to match its style, and the location—in a pretty piazza just around the corner from the Pantheon—could hardly be better. The name translates as grain or wheat, a theme that underpins both the contempo beige and cream urban-country decor and the cuisine, with homemade bread (check out the walnut and golden-raisins version) and high-class pasta taking center stage. A plate of perfect, al dente paccheri with calamari and cime di rapa (turnip tops) sums up the chef's tasty southern-Italian approach, but there are plenty of non-carb options, too, from antipasti like a simple but fresh tuna tartare to the meat or fish main courses. The owners previously worked at Gusto, and the influence of that Roman mold-breaker is clear in the mix of strong design, creative but unfussy Italian cuisine, and reasonable prices (which extend to remarkably honest markups on wine). Service is simpatico, and the small al fresco seating area in the piazza is a delight on a summer evening (it's not undiscovered, though, so book ahead if you're angling for an outside table).

Open daily 12:30 pm to midnight.

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Snooty service coupled with mediocre food

Don't ask for an outside table... the staff informed me that all outside tables were booked and they could not accommodate my request to sit outside -- the... more